Timeshare Presentations: Throw your financial avatar into a cage match

By | March 17, 2016

The first time someone tried to sell me on the idea of going to a timeshare presentation, I have to admit that my first thought was “that doesn’t sound terrible.” The woman on the other end of the line promised me two plane tickets to Las Vegas and two nights in a hotel for only $99 and my attendance at a 90 minute presentation.

"I don't know how to edit pictures to puts in the bubbles."

I wish I could go, but I’m no longer allowed in the state of Nevada due to an unfortunate card-counting incident.

Teenage-Thriftygal was only pretending to be her father on the phone with that telemarketer and ended the call by hanging up on her, but her pitch hitched a ride on a few of my brain cells and over the years I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time thinking of reasons to not attend a timeshare presentation.

First I came up with reasons not to attend that particular pitch I received. If I were in any sort of debt, I wouldn’t go. This $99 “vacation” would still require money for transportation to and from the airport and food, drink and entertainment expenses for those two days. That money would be better spent towards my debt than an impromptu weekend trip. Oh, if I were a recovering gambler and didn’t want to tempt myself with Las Vegas, I wouldn’t go. I wish I had used that second reason on the phone call.

The more I learned about timeshare presentations over the years, the more reasons I added to my list. I’ve read horror stories about it being dangerous in certain countries. If I were married to an idiot who is easily swayed by good salespeople, I wouldn’t go. If I were in the South Park universe where the timeshare industry controls the police and the President of the United States, I definitely wouldn’t go. Those last two examples are pop culture references. See, I know pop culture!

I could potentially justify that 90 minutes of my life, but as these presentations are notoriously hard to end, I suspect the actual time commitment would end up being closer to a half day. A quarter of my time on that vacation spent pressured into buying something I don’t want? Oof, that’s a much harder sell. A half hour of no no no is fine. Four hours plus of no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no is annoying enough to read; I imagine the experience itself would be a million times worse to live.


Why do I need the knife again?

Plus, I know that these people who are presenting to me need me to cave. If I don’t pay, they don’t get paid. This is their job and some of them are really really good at it. They have researched every possible answer and have a counter-answer. They look for your weak spots and poke poke poke at you until you have to be rude and yell at them to stop poking you, dammit! You have to demand to leave when 90 minutes is over. You have to feel like a jerk at some point.
I don’t enjoy the idea of setting up my financial avatar for a knife fight. Either she gets stabbed or (more likely) she stabs the presenter’s financial avatar.

I’m not susceptible to that kind of thing and have faith that I could say no and come out “ahead”. But everyone thinks that, don’t they? Everyone thinks they’re a good driver. Everyone thinks they’re smarter than the average bear. I don’t like to tempt the weaknesses in my synapses, so I try to set myself up to succeed. It’s better to avoid these kind of “deals.” Even when my financial avatar wins, she’s still going to feel rather gross about the whole interaction.

If you’re going to a timeshare presentation, you’re going to have a bad time.

The pitches for timeshare presentations, like most scams, are constantly evolving and I think the best response, in the end, is pure avoidance. They’ll shout at you in airports offering free or insanely reduced-price experiences or even warm, soft cash if you attend. They’ll bother you in your hotel. They’ll suggest at the front desk. I know they’re smiling, but their financial avatars are sharpening their knives. People who sell timeshares have to use aggressive sales tactics that confuse and wear people down because their products make no sense.


I’m speaking, of course, only about *going* to a timeshare presentation and not actually purchasing a timeshare. That, to me, is a no-brainer. Buying a timeshare is essentially letting your financial avatar get stabbed in the right hand. A very annoying injury, I would imagine. Even if your financial avatar is left-handed, he won’t be able to wash the dishes and will have to live in filth.

The people who are happy they bought their timeshare confound me. It sounds like Stockholm Syndrome or locate-the-silver-lining-itis. I love taking vacations. But the timeshare route to a vacation includes a very expensive middleman, severely limiting my options and saddling myself (and my heirs) with costly and continuing responsibilities.

In most cases, you have to put down a down-payment. If you don’t have the cash, they offer you loans with exorbitant interest rates. Then you have to pay monthly maintenance costs. Then when you’re ready to use it, you have to pay booking fees or cleaning fees. If you’re suckered into the timeshare industry once, you’re officially on their radar. My idea of a nice vacation doesn’t involve recurring hassle from someone bugging you to buy more or upgrade.

I like to use my money to increase my options and not limit them. With timeshares, you can only vacation at specific places at specific times with advanced planning. It’s hard to get out of these timeshare contracts when your life situation changes. People are paying money to give them away. On ebay, you can find a ton of nice folks willing to pay the $599 closing costs and the resort transfer fee of $250 if you give them $1 and take over the contract with the never-ending maintenance fees. If you’re still keen on timeshares, like most things in life, you’ll be better off if you buy it used.

I really don’t understand the appeal though. If you understand the appeal, don’t tell me. I’m pretty happy with my opinion.

11 thoughts on “Timeshare Presentations: Throw your financial avatar into a cage match

  1. tissueking22

    I say run and run as fast as you can. I paid $14,000 for a ski timeshare in Breckenridge and now I continue to pay on a yearly basis. The jacked up part is that I don’t even use the thing.

    This expense is on the short list and about to be put on the R.I.P list. That’s right out to pasture. If you get an inkling to purchase a timeshare or even view one, think twice. Run as fast as you can.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Why did you buy one and how do you plan on getting rid of it? I find this fascinating because to me it just sounds like such a terrible deal.

  2. Karen @ Coolfamilylife

    My brother tried to sell his timeshare on line at a deeply discounted price but no-takers. I went to two presentations in the past. They tried to guilt me into buying because they fed us dinner of cold pasta and salad. Then they keep bringing over various “supervisors”. I never received any “prizes” or vacations I was told I would. Every day I picked was sold out or they didn’t get back to me. It was awful. Maybe if I actually got something out of it, I might feel better. I do know some people who have them and enjoy them but they tend to be older people. Many people are so travel savvy now and great at finding deals that I don’t think they would want to be locked down into something like that.

  3. k smyth

    I’m quite happy with my timeshare (celebrating 20 years this year), and I had a 2nd one that I sold quite effortlessly. Consumer Reports has several recent articles on this topic. If you want to stay someplace upscale, have plenty of room, and enjoy consistently wonderful facilities, go with one of the hospitality leaders like Marriott or Hilton. I can’t understand renting someone else’s tired old beach house, year after year, yawn! Gimme a timeshare to swap for any global location any time! http://www.consumerreports.org/personal-finance/is-a-timeshare-vacation-a-good-value/

    1. Zbigniew the Timeshare buster

      Which timeshare company do you work for?

        1. Zbigniew the Timeshare Buster

          Is there any doubt about that? I mean, who but an timeshare saleman says you can “swap for any location any time?’ Even owners, who are relatively happy with theirs acknowledge that it requires planning well in advance to do a swap and that at peak times, it nigh impossible.

  4. Ally

    I sat through a timeshare presentation with a friend once. It was exactly what you described: hours of “no no no no no”, with the salesperson chipping away at every reservation. I was along for the ride but was ready to capitulate in the place of my friend! I’m pretty sure the police use the same techniques to beat people into false confessions. After many hours, you will almost do or say anything to get out of there.
    I know several people who had time shares and liked them, but as you described, it just doesn’t pencil out. The upfront investment and annual fees seemed way more expensive than just going to a hotel or resort on a regular vacation whenever you want. No commitment like that for me.

  5. tissueking22

    We bought it thinking it would be a good deal to use in exchange for trips to Europe but that was a real bad idea. I’m also an avid skier and figured that I would use it often but I haven’t. I’m looking into Timeshare Exit team as a method to get rid of it.

  6. Locke


    You hit the nail on the head. My wife and parents went to a timeshare presentation in Cocoa Beach, Florida, for a $50 check for both of us couples and a lunch of sandwiches and chips. We left feeling dirty… The high pressure salesmen make you feel rotten for saying “no,” and they bring in multiple salesmen. Like you suggested, the presentation went over the time length they told us. Fortunately for my wife and me, the focus was really on my dad, but it felt brutal just witnessing the interrogation. They really tried to make us feel bad for declining the timeshare, and we did. We walked away with the $50 checks, but we vowed to never go to a timeshare presentation again.


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